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Bosnia winter was grueling for Utah man

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Now that Bosnia revels in lovely spring weather, Jake F. Cordova can look back at the misery of last winter and smile.

Cordova, a resident of Stansbury Park, Tooele County, Utah, is one of many civilians who work behind the scenes to keep the military functioning here. An employee of the government's Soldiers System Command, which designs and maintains all sorts of gear from radar to tents, he is a logistics troubleshooter.He remembered vividly an assignment last Christmas when a generator crashed at towering Mount Vis near Tuzla. The generator provides power to support a critical radar.

They drove up the steep hill, then worked outside to repair the generator. "We worked for about six hours - cold, snowy," he said. But they got the power back on.

"The following day, the 26th of December, we went up to Camp Mahala - another system went down. And it was snowy, sleet." That day they worked outside for three or four hours. He just about caught pneumonia, he said, but they got that system working, too.

It's been a long time since he has lived in Utah, but Cordova visits when he can. He and his wife, Connie Rae Cordova, plan to build a log-cabin retirement home near Ophir, Tooele County, after he retires in three or four years.

Cordova took his first government job working for Tooele Army Depot. His next was for the Soldiers System Command, where he still works. He has been based in Panama, Texas and Germany and working the command's Natick Labs in Massachusetts, which develop everything from medical gear to whole tent cities.

As a troubleshooter, Cordova often leaves his office at Guardian base and travels by convoy to other American outposts throughout eastern Bosnia. That gives him many chances to meet Bosnians and see what years of warfare have done to their country.

"Up north at the Sava River, the buildings are demolished," he said. "They were hit with rocket fire - just devastated. You know, the whole village would be wiped out."

He is a strong supporter of the United States' presence here.

"Honestly speaking, I believe that if we weren't here there would be war. It's a war-torn country now. And if we were not here, it would be a battle here every day."